Written by: Neetha Ann Dooy, Batch: 2019-2022,CMS College, Kottayam, Kerala
While strolling through a park, how many of us have really paid attention to the myriad hues of sounds we hear? It can be the chirping of birds, the rustling of leaves or just the plain honk-honk of a car passing by. But mostly, on our busy day to work or to school, all these sounds turn to a mere cacophony. We hope for Silence. For Peace.
Now Imagine, you were born deaf. You can't hear anything. It's all Silent. You see things happening all around you, but it's all like a muted movie. You have so many things you want to express. So many things you want to hear and absorb. But you just can't.
It's suffocating, right? Silence? Those of us, who hear for granted, cannot even imagine being deaf.
Sound of Silence is all that the deaf can hear. And that is what 'Sounds of Silence', the NGO, aims to enrich.
Sounds of Silence (SOS), is a technology-based NGO working for the empowerment of hearing-impaired kids. The NGO was founded in 2012 and is based in Mumbai. It also has centers in Delhi and Pune.
SOS works to shake off the obstacles deaf kids face in communication and expression. They strive to relieve the 'pain of silence' these kids face every day.
Technology is the basis of the SOS Foundation. Commonly, deaf and mute kids interact with the rest of us through sign language. But this can be an arduous task, especially since most of us are unfamiliar with their language. Thus, this becomes an instant where language itself becomes a barrier to communication.
SOS makes brilliant use of technological gadgets to ensure that the sign language does not become a barrier in the way of communication of these kids with the rest of the world.
How the NGO does this is rather simple and ingenious. SOS teaches the kids to text using keypad mobile phones. Now, texting using mobile phones has been in existence from the time mobile phones came into existence. What is innovative here is that none of us thought about using something as basic as texting to help alleviate the suffocation of deaf and mute kids. Well, except SOS, which has revolutionized texting.
SOS provides mobile phones to these special kids so that they can text each other. To truly understand the depth of such a gesture, it's important to note that texting these kids do is a world apart from the texting we do. We usually text casual stuff. Things that are not as important as the spoken word. Greetings. Hi's and Hello's.
But for these kids, texting is their whole world. They text the things we speak. The emotions we express. The pain we communicate. It's their whole self they text completely and freely.
SOS actively seeks old mobile phone donations. Since SOS relies on mobile phones to help special kids have a better grasp of life, it is necessary that we donate our old phones to the NGO. So please do consider this and make a kid's life better. The Contact details of the NGO are given on their website.
The guiding vision of SOS is 'Deafness with Dignity and Equality'. And independence is key to self-dignity. The NGO also helps in molding these kids into well-rounded and independent individuals through education. Again, education is technology-driven.
SOS teaches the deaf and mute kids the nuances of online marketing. It provides a 2-month training course in the fields of
● Search Engine Optimization
● Email Marketing
● Data Entry
Once the base is set, it is time to put into practice the skills the kids have acquired. The NGO has started a 'Non-Voice Centre', which provides employment to the hearing and speech impaired kids. SOS has tie-ups with several small and mid-sized companies that outsource their online marketing works to the NGO. The kids don their specialist hats and set off to work. This venture has provided huge employment opportunities for hearing and speech impaired kids across Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.
Besides empowering the kids, SOS also promotes social and cultural awareness about the deaf and mute community. They conduct various volunteer sessions in schools as well as carry out awareness campaigns.
The NGO is also active in carrying out several social welfare schemes. One shining example is their 100 Santa's Project, 2018. The initiative distributed around 5,000 gifts and essentials to the street and slum kids of Mumbai, on the days preceding Christmas. The project started out simple with SOS volunteers garnering about 260 gifts. But the event soon turned into a mass initiative in which people from all walks of life adorned Santa Costumes and distributed happiness wrapped in glitter. Surely, there is no better way to spread Christmas Cheer.
Sounds of Silence has won several accolades and mentions for the stupendous work they are doing. SOS was awarded the 'World Education Summit Award, 2013'. The founder of the NGO, Mr. Sumit Singh Gandhi was awarded the title of 'Social Entrepreneur of the Year, 2015'. The NGO also received a special mention at the 'MBillionth South Asia Award for Mobile Innovation'.
SOS makes us believe in the strength of teamwork. In the power of an individual. And above all, in the goodness of the human heart.
The NGO helps numerous kids to break free from the shackles of their physical limitations. It envisions a future where speech and hearing impaired individuals are given an equal opportunity as others. SOS strives for a society where the sound of silence is no longer so painfully silent.